VA simplifies PTSD claims

The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that it would change the way it assesses whether a veteran qualifies to get benefits for service-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

The new rule means that veterans who are found by a VA psychiatrist or other mental health professional to have developed PTSD related to fear of hostile military or terrorist action do not require corroboration of an actual combat “stressor.” The simplification - in addition to a new, shorter claim form - should decrease the amount of time it takes for adjudicators to decide on PTSD claims, the VA said.

“This nation has a solemn obligation to the men and women who have honorably served this country and suffer from the often devastating emotional wounds of war,” said Eric K. Shinseki, secretary of veterans affairs. “This final regulation goes a long way to ensure that veterans receive the benefits and services they need.”

More than 400,000 veterans currently get benefits for service-related PTSD. And in fiscal year 2009, which ended on Oct 30, 365,836 veterans got treatment for the condition at a Veterans Health Administration facility. Of those, 69,664 served in the current conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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